Meet the French – the world-class talent ready to make Ireland feel Les Bleus

France's Dayot Upamecano celebrates scoring their second goal against the Netherlands with Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice on Friday night. Photo: Reuters

Olivier Giroud is France's record goal-scorer. Photo: Reuters

thumbnail: France's Dayot Upamecano celebrates scoring their second goal against the Netherlands with Kylian Mbappe, who scored twice on Friday night. Photo: Reuters
thumbnail: Olivier Giroud is France's record goal-scorer. Photo: Reuters
Daniel McDonnell


Mike Maignan (AC Milan)

Age: 30 Caps: 6

The AC Milan goalkeeper is primed to take over from Hugo Lloris as the French No 1. He made his name with Lille, winning a league title in his final season with the club before signing a five-year deal with Milan in 2021.

Alphonse Areola (West Ham)

Age: 30 Caps: 5

The West Ham netminder is firmly in back-up territory with club and country and it would take an emergency for him to feature.

Brice Samba (Lens)

Age: 28 Caps: 0

The Congo-born netminder will be familiar to Nottingham Forest fans after playing a key role in their promotion to the Premier League before returning home to sign for Lens.


Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)

Age: 26 Caps: 47

The 2018 World Cup winner became a peripheral player in Qatar with speculation that he was in the bad books behind the scenes after falling out of favour. He sees himself as a centre-half but has primarily been used as a full-back by his country.

Jules Kounde (Barcelona)

Age: 24 Caps: 19

The first-choice right-back in Qatar is another versatile performer who can operate in the centre. He joined Barcelona in 2022 after a successful three-year spell with Sevilla.

Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)

Age: 24 Caps: 13

Another German-based player who is rated highly by manager Didier Deschamps, with Upamecano a central defensive figure in Qatar. The former Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig defender isn’t always pretty but he’s a big presence.

Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool)

Age: 23 Caps: 7

His low number of caps is related to the influence of the departed Raphael Varane and he’ll now be pushing for a greater role. Evan Ferguson has direct knowledge of Konate from a pair of club meetings.

Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)

Age: 25 Caps: 14

The younger brother of Lucas stepped into his sibling’s shoes in Qatar when an ACL ended his tournament. Theo is good going forward but has faced questions about his defensive aptitude, although France do take risks on that side. Joined Milan from Real Madrid in 2019.

Axel Disasi (Monaco)

Age: 25 Caps: 3

Another player of Congolese descent, and a relatively late bloomer. Disasi was winning just his third cap when he came off the bench late in the chaos of the World Cup decider.

Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice)

Age: 23 Caps: 0

Todibo is a former French U-20 international who was on the books of Barcelona but had loan spells with Schalke, Benfica and Nice before signing for the latter. Would be a surprise if he featured.


Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)

Age: 27 Caps: 36

He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but Rabiot stepped up to produce some decent performances in the World Cup and is an established member of Deschamps’ side, primarily as a left central midfielder.

Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid)

Age: 23 Caps: 22

Real Madrid spent €80m (plus clauses) to bring the midfielder to the club in 2021, and in the absence of N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba he was at the centre of the engine room in the World Cup tilt, with a goal against England the highlight.

Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)

Age: 20 Caps: 7

A Champions League winner with his club and he was excellent against Liverpool recently, but there’s still a question-mark over where he’ll operate for his country – with Deschamps indicating he may revert to left-back ahead of Hernandez.

Youssouf Fofana (Monaco)

Age: 24 Caps: 8

The Monaco player was involved in all bar one of France’s World Cup matches after making a late run to the squad. He was largely a deputy for Rabiot. Fofana is another late bloomer; he was a pizza delivery boy in his teens before blossoming at Strasbourg.

Jordan Veretout (Marseille)

Age: 30 Caps: 6

Veretout only received his first senior call in 2021. He had time with Aston Villa before spending the bulk of his twenties in Serie A with Fiorentina and then Roma. However, he was only used once in Qatar – the group-stage loss to Tunisia.

Khephren Thuram (Nice)

Age: 21 Caps: 1

The younger son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian is a new name to the panel, a strapping, athletic midfielder who has been making waves with Nice. His upbringing is a reflection of his father’s career; he was born in Italy and lived in Spain before coming back to France.


Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Age: 24 Caps: 67

Shouldn’t require introduction – 38 goals in his 67 games, including a starring role in one World Cup win and a hat-trick in a final that ended in defeat. A sensational talent who is now wearing the captain’s armband, he scored twice against the Dutch on Friday.

Olivier Giroud (AC Milan)

Age: 36 Caps: 121

France’s record goalscorer (below) has shunned the idea of retirement but was dropped to bench on Friday, so it’s possible he may have to spend more time on the sidelines in this campaign.

Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)

Age: 32 Caps: 118

Outstanding in Qatar in a more withdrawn role linking midfield and attack, although there have been murmurs in France that he was miffed to be overlooked for the armband. A really intelligent player.

Randal Kolo-Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Age: 24 Caps: 6

A low-profile member of the squad before Qatar but he shot to prominence with explosive cameos off the bench in the semi-final and final, scoring against Morocco and then winning a penalty in the decider before missing a glorious opportunity to win it. Deschamps allowed him to lead the line against the Netherlands.

Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich)

Age: 26 Caps: 47

The quick winger has been around the squad since 2015 and that’s why he was disappointed to find himself behind comparative rookies at times in Qatar – although he did make his presence felt as a sub in the final. With Ousmane Dembele absent, he got the nod on Friday.

Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Age: 25 Caps: 10

The elder son of Lilian was signed for €12m from Guingamp in 2019, making him one of the cheaper members of the group. A late call to the World Cup squad who tends to function as a wide attacker off the bench.

Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen)

Age: 23 Caps: 9

The PSG academy graduate moved to Germany in 2019 and received a first call to the French squad two years later. He missed out on the World Cup squad but has been mentioned as a possible Arsenal target.